The Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle was awarded a $4.75 million grant Tuesday under President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, one of 58 new projects announced by the National Institutes of Health.
Founded in 2003 by the billionaire Microsoft co-found Paul Allen, the institute has specialized in detailed mapping of both human and mouse brains, identifying different types of cells based on location in the brain and genetic makeup.
Now the new grant will allow scientists to create a data base of cell types in the mouse brain, a key first step in understanding many brain diseases and disorders.
“Neuronal cell types are the foundational building blocks of circuits in the brain,” Hongkui Zeng, leader of the project, said in a press release. “So if we want to understand how circuits work – in everything from information processing to states of health and disease – we need to know more about the parts that comprise them.”
The project is a collaboration with researchers at Cal Tech and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janielia Research Campus.
The federal BRAIN initiative, launched by Obama in 2013, is an effort to probe the detailed workings of the brain in greater detail than ever before in the hopes of finding treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury.